STATEMENT BY CONCERNED NIGERIANS
We are responsible and patriotic Nigerians who have watched with serious concern the unfolding crisis threatening to engulf our nation. We are non-partisan individuals who believe in the union of our people through the maintenance of democratic order founded on the rule of law. Our initiative grew out of the recent #EndSARS protests, by Nigerian youth across the country, against widespread police brutality, endemic corruption, and bad governance. Our objective is to add our voices and call those in authority to reason and halt what appears to be a decent to anarchy.
We believe in the freedom of all Nigerians to exercise the rights guaranteed by our Constitution, including the right to life, dignity, personal liberty, freedom of speech, and right to freedom of association (which encompasses the right to participate in peaceful protests and in processions without harassment or intimidation from any person or authority). Beyond these fundamental rights is the high constitutional duty and responsibility of all organs of government in Nigeria to act for the primary purpose of government being the security and welfare of the people (as set out in Section 14(2)(B) of the Constitution). The prerequisite for exercising the rights of citizens rests fully on the existence of the security of lives and property of all Nigerians.
Despite the exacerbation of prevailing pains of anguish and anger precipitated by COVID-19 and attendant stagflation, the unfortunate manner in which the ground swell united EndSARS protest was ended with illegitimate use of force by government (some disillusioned as well as criminal people), has increased tension, fear, dismay, disillusion and despair for most Nigerians. This is further aggravated by the unlawful detention and blocking of bank accounts of innocent protesters; the unceasing attempt to delegitimize EndSARS, presenting it as a move to initiate regime change; and inconsistent, high handed treatment of the people by the Federal Government-appointed Consultative Committee under the Chief of Staff to the President.
In the effort to subdue the freedom of Nigerians the top agents of State have been insistent on not allowing any more protests, warning they will be treated as acts of treason rather than address the substantive issues that led to the protest. This is against the backdrop of concerns about an urgent and coordinated action by the States and the Federal governments to implement the minimum set of proposals by the youth, establish the basis for trust, allow for evident and speedy reform of the police, and more importantly deal with the open take-over of a large part of the nation by well-organized outright lawlessness, intent on unleashing generalized violence on the citizens, threatening
community as we know it. This was brought to a head by the most barbaric slaughter of innocent Nigerians at Zabarmari, Borno State.Nigerians now live in a state of anomie, well outside our unsuccessful eleven-year old war against Boko Haram. Across the country, especially in the North, life has become extremely tenuous. People are killed daily, women are raped regularly, kidnapping is rife and many farmers cannot go to their farms. We are concerned that over the past five years, in particular, public safety and security have been in steady decline throughout the country. According to the Global Terrorism Index 2020, Nigeria is the third country most impacted by terrorism in the world today. Everyone is asking, where is the State? Underscoring the message of many notable Nigerians, the Sultan of Sokoto declared last week, that no one is safe anywhere in Nigeria. The country is facing a real crisis of food insecurity. Millions of Nigerians are in desperate need of emergency humanitarian support.
What we see, like others, is incompetence in governance demonstrated by a lack of ideas on how to tackle insecurity, a poor understanding of the situation and a clear failure in the pursuit of government engagement to address these problems. The Zabarmari incident is a grave indictment of the government. At the minimum what we should have seen is the honourable exit of the persons responsible for defense and security of our country.
In spite of numerous calls on the President to sack his Service Chiefs, the President has persisted in his policy of guarantying them longevity in their positions. His message to Nigerians appears to be that he is not ready to sanction his Security Chiefs for failure. The President must therefore take responsibility for the failure as the Commander- in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
Having carefully observed and followed these unfolding events, the Zabarmari gruesome killings must be a red line for the country. The time for action is now. There is an urgent need to halt our descent into the further deterioration of the system as the political space is heating up. We therefore with all sense of patriotism and love for a united, peaceful, secure, just, and prosperous nation, call for the following urgent steps to be taken by all to whom it may concern:
i. The National Assembly Should during the engagement with the Office of the President, ensure that the Office takes decisive action to improve the security situation in the country as stipulated by our Grand Norm;
In consonance with the widely accepted notion of devolution, the National Assembly should enact laws to facilitate State Governments to take more responsibility for their security as they face increased insecurity;
The security chiefs in the country have collectively failed to provide security for Nigerians and there must be consequences for this failure and in any case, their tenure has expired;
Civil society groups and communities must come out and clearly show their legitimate concerns at mounting insecurity and make it clear that they are unwilling to continue to accept the current collapse of public safety;
State Governments and community leaders should quickly put in place legitimate mechanisms to for better protection of their people against mass violence, banditry, kidnapping and other crimes;
The President and the Presidency should demonstrate real leadership in the crisis we face as a nation with the President showing empathy and compassion, using power of his voice to calm nerves; and urging all who speak for government to show sensibility to the feelings of the people and not denigrate as criminals’ objective critics of existential problems we all face; The Federal Government should unfreeze all accounts and free all persons detained on account of organizing the EndSARS protest, charging to court anyone it finds to have a case to answer for any crime.
The Federal Government should stop all acts evidencing dissonance in government, labelling innocent and legitimate activity as criminal, ridiculing government by misrepresenting facts, and labelling the reportage of facts as fake news.
ISSUED THIS 9th DAY OF DECEMBER, 2020 Signed by the Under listed:
- A. B. Mahmoud, OON, SAN, SFNLI
- Abubakar Sokoto Mohammed
- Adeyemi Candide-Johnson SAN
- Ambassador Joe Keshi
- Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah
- Cmrd. Salisu Nuhu Mohammed
- Dayo Olaide
- Danlami Nmodu
- Dr. Chris Kwaja
- Dr. Dipo Fashina
- Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed
- Dr. Innocent Chukwuma
- Dr. Kole Shettima
- Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson
- Dr. Olisa Agbakoba OON, SAN
- Dr. Udo Jude
- Dr. Usman Bugaje
- Ene Obi
- Father George Ehusani
- Funke Adekoya, SAN
- Hon. Rima Shawulu
- Idayat Hassan
- Mal. Yusuf Ali SAN
- Mal. Kabiru Yusuf
- Mallam Hamza Ibrahim
- Mal. Y.Z. Yau
- Mr. Ledum Mitee
- Mr. Chino Edmund Obiagwu SAN
- Mr. Femi Falana SAN
- Mr. John Odah
- Ms. Ngozi Iwere
- Ms. Amina Salisu
- Prof. Auwalu H. Yadudu
- Prof. Attahiru Muhammadu Jega OFR
- Prof. Adele Jinadu
- Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim
- Prof. G.G. Darah
- Prof. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo OON
- Prof. Mohammed Tabiu, SAN
- Prof. Pat Utomi
- Prof. Rufai Alkali
- Prof. Ukachukwu A. Awuzie
- Rev Prof. Koyinsola Ajayi SAN
On behalf of the Concerned Nigerians
Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim
A. B. Mahmoud, OON, SAN, SFNLI